Short Tailed Pygmy Monitor - Varanus brevicauda (Boulenger, 1898)
This small lizard has the dubious honour of being the smallest individual in a family of lizards which is well known for including the largest in the world. Currently placed in the same genus as the world's largest living lizard, the Komodo dragon, this little lizard is at the opposite end of the spectrum with an adult length of around 24cm, including the tail.
The background colour is reddish or yellowish, with a darker, speckled reticulated pattern covering the body. The tail is shorter than the snout to vent length, covered in strongly keeled scales and covered in a fairly irregular dark pattern.
In the wild they are highly active foragers, although also quite wary, probably due to their size making them vulnerable to predators. In captivity they can become very bold after realising nothing is planning to eat them, and will often carry out normal behaviour in front of human observers.
They are found in arid and semi arid areas and are often associated with spinifex, within which they shelter and under which they burrow. They have been recorded in the extreme west of QLD, much of central Australia and the arid areas of WA. Despite their abundance and high rate of activity, they are usually difficult to observe in the wild due to the fear wild individuals have of larger animals, including humans.